Is "GM Agency" A Thing?

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Hussar

Legend
Based on actual experience with actual players, I am going to guess "nearly none." A significant portion of players come to the table to be entertained as if if they were going to a movie. And that's fine. But I think it is silly to suggest that for some secret hidden majority of players there's this quashed desire to really WORK at the table.

I absolutely think it’s taught. When you get new players, particularly younger ones, they will constantly try to author in elements into the game, even in the middle of play.

That kind of behaviour gets beaten out of them pretty quickly by DM’s and advice around gaming where they get told that “it’s the DMs world” or “your dm is responsible for the world” and so on.

The whole “roll up the plot wagon and entertain me” crowd of gamers is imo very much a learned behaviour.
 

Hussar

Legend
I’ll put this here for evidence of what I’m talking about. Ray Winneger (sp) in Dungeon Magazine, back when it was a print magazine, had a fantastic series about campaign design. Really the gold standard for campaign design. Fantastic stuff. Went on for quite a few years as I recall.

I don’t recall a single article talking about engaging the players in campaign design. Everything comes from the dm.

I’ve got a cool little game that I picked up where the players collaboratively/competitively design a game world. Each player is a god and can do all sorts of things that you would expect gods to do - create lands, peoples, send disasters you name it. At the end of play, you have a complete world with geography, history etc.

Six DND DMG‘s and not a single one even whispers a suggestion of creating a campaign this way. It’s always 100% from the DM to the players who passively lap up whatever the DM is serving.

Even Adventure Paths are designed this way. Why not have collaborative dungeon design where each player builds a part of the dungeon, which the dm then stitched together. As the dm makes changes, the players are awarded a pool of bonus dice to use while exploring the dungeon. Great idea. Takes so much work load off the dm and engages the players to a huge degree.

Not so much as a hint of doing something like that in trad games.
 

Yora

Legend
The DMGs are not books that have meaningful advice on setting up and running games.
The very first one back in the 70s tried, but thar was also an incoherent mess. DMGs are books with rules that don't fit the page count of the DMG and the magic items chapter. They always sucked.
 

Micah Sweet

Level Up & OSR Enthusiast
I’ll put this here for evidence of what I’m talking about. Ray Winneger (sp) in Dungeon Magazine, back when it was a print magazine, had a fantastic series about campaign design. Really the gold standard for campaign design. Fantastic stuff. Went on for quite a few years as I recall.

I don’t recall a single article talking about engaging the players in campaign design. Everything comes from the dm.

I’ve got a cool little game that I picked up where the players collaboratively/competitively design a game world. Each player is a god and can do all sorts of things that you would expect gods to do - create lands, peoples, send disasters you name it. At the end of play, you have a complete world with geography, history etc.

Six DND DMG‘s and not a single one even whispers a suggestion of creating a campaign this way. It’s always 100% from the DM to the players who passively lap up whatever the DM is serving.

Even Adventure Paths are designed this way. Why not have collaborative dungeon design where each player builds a part of the dungeon, which the dm then stitched together. As the dm makes changes, the players are awarded a pool of bonus dice to use while exploring the dungeon. Great idea. Takes so much work load off the dm and engages the players to a huge degree.

Not so much as a hint of doing something like that in trad games.
That is a different kind of game. As you say, such games exist, so I'm not sure what you're complaining about. If you want to run your campaign this way, you are welcome to do so. Sounds like fun.

What game are you talking about, by the way?
 

Dannyalcatraz

Schmoderator
Staff member
Supporter
In other words, a radical individualist who doesn't care what other people think? Well, at least that explains why you're not able to engage with people who feel otherwise.
Mod Note:

You’ve been here long enough to know making it personal is not appropriate on ENWorld. Don’t do it again.
 

pemerton

Legend
Six DND DMG‘s and not a single one even whispers a suggestion of creating a campaign this way.
For what it's worth, 4e D&D flagged this possibility in its PHB, in its DMG (both in the context of player-authored quests) and then said more, including outside the quest context, in the DMG 2.
 

pemerton

Legend
]
I've seen GMs who think its an unwarranted intrusion to define the village your character came from.
I’ve got a cool little game that I picked up where the players collaboratively/competitively design a game world.

<snip>

Six DND DMG‘s and not a single one even whispers a suggestion of creating a campaign this way.
That is a different kind of game.
I don't think it's terribly different at all.

Back in 1990, when the only RPGing resources I was familiar with were D&D and Rolemaster ones, I took it for granted that players would create elements for their PCs. I suspect I got some of this expectation from the book What is Dungeons & Dragons? (published in 1982) and some from the original OA's approach to PC build, which included families and martial arts masters and the like.

We didn't do anything very radical - but the players talked about their PC ideas, we worked out where they came from on the Greyhawk map, they made up details of their backstories, the magic-using PC made up the details of his mentor who lived in a great hollow oak tree outside of the village, etc.

There is no inherent opposition between a pretty standard approach to D&D, and letting players play this sort of role in setting design.

Why not have collaborative dungeon design where each player builds a part of the dungeon, which the dm then stitched together. As the dm makes changes, the players are awarded a pool of bonus dice to use while exploring the dungeon. Great idea. Takes so much work load off the dm and engages the players to a huge degree.
This I think is more radical, as it is not just player authorship of background setting elements but players authoring the core obstacles of the adventure.

Of course that's not to say that it couldn't be done!
 

Reynard

Legend
The whole “roll up the plot wagon and entertain me” crowd of gamers is imo very much a learned behaviour.
This is not my experience.

As to player authored setting elements, it's common for players to establish some of those elements in creating back stories, and the GM incorporating those elements into play, no?
 

aramis erak

Legend
But is this even a thing?

Is there a game out there that has rules like "once the DM has made a person, place or thing it shall never be changed ever" ? Or even more "the DM shall never make up anything the players do not like"?

And the DM does not even need to "change" things....just "decide what happens". Like the characters attack an evil wizard....but fall for the trap and fail their saves. Leaving the characters trapped in magical poisonous mud and covered in magic webs. Well, the evil wizard npc can end it right there...a single attack and TPK dead characters. But the DM does not want to do that so "suddenly" has the wizard cast Sprinkle of Cold Snowflakes for 1d2 damage.
Often.
Of the last 10 tables I've played at (rather than run), I walked from 4 because of horrible changes to rules...

BTVS - The GM was taking and rolling NPC attacks by adding them to the listed figures - when the rules note that they're figured by replacing a die roll with the NPC always rolling a 6. So, since almost all interactions are as PC stat + skill + difficulty mod + 1d10 vs NPC stat + skill + difficulty mod + 6. (Difficulty mods are generally prefigured for specific combat maneuvers; non-combat, just adjust the player's roll.)

AD&D 2e - GM decided to relocate us to Ravenloft, while out of spells, out of healing potions, and low on hit points. I chose not to go. She made it a mission from god... I was playing a paladin... My response was, "I guess I'm a fighter now." Since I was hosting, and NOT ONE PLAYER was interested in the horror-dungeon... including the GM's boyfriend... campaign ended right then and there. DQ and I have spoken only a couple times since - at funerals and SCA events.

I watched the GM for the third running a session prior - several empty seats... and saw he was making many egregiously bad "Not 5E as advertized" calls. I went and crossed my name off the prereg.

When a Rifts GM isn't even adhering to the basics of Palladium (d20 for combat, d100 for non-combat)... was using 2d10 for the to-hit... and was dividing all PC skills by 5 to get them to 2d10 as well. Walked right off. Session 1.
 

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